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Opposition calls for US action on visa 'stress'

Opposition calls for US action on visa 'stress'

VISA officials at the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh have made life difficult for Cambodian visa applicants, according to a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker, who has requested an explanation from officials.

In a letter to Ambassador Carol Rodley dated Friday, SRP parliamentarian Son Chhay said many Cambodian visa applicants have endured "humiliation and great stress" at the hands of visa officers, who he claimed have rejected many genuine applications.

"[There have been] numerous complaints about consular officers at the Visa Service Section lacking clear ethical and professional guidelines, resulting in officers abusing their position of power, mishandling applications, treating Cambodians disrespectfully and misjudging what were often genuine applicants, at interviews, for fake applicants," the letter said.

He cited the case of an old woman who three times was denied approval for a visa to travel to the US to visit a daughter scheduled to undergo a serious operation, as well as students who were "shouted at and accused of being liars" when they tried to obtain travel documents.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said he was "not aware" of any concerns relating to the issuing of US visas. The US Embassy had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO

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